Many bonuses accrue to the Christian. Some—a constant source of comfort, hope, guidance and help in Christian living—of others, we seem often unaware.

But God has made one promise to his children so staggering in its implications that few of us have begun to live in the light of its fullness. In Romans 8:28 we read: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

This is not a generalized statement as some think. Someone may say that it means “everything will work out well, regardless of circumstances.” But it means nothing of the kind. It is a promise given specifically to those who love God, who are his children—a promise which is specifically and exclusively given to Christians.

Another striking fact is that it is an unqualified affirmation. Paul says that we know this. One of the characteristics of a life separated from God is uncertainty, groping and frustration. The world is restless and many are afraid because they have never found a certainty on which to base their hopes. But here we have a flat statement of fact, something which can be accepted in faith and demonstrated in practice.

Furthermore there can be no question raised of taking a verse of Scripture out of context. This particular promise rests squarely in the center of some of the most glorious truths revealed in the Bible. Paul has just affirmed that it is the Holy Spirit who helps us to pray, that he prays for us according to the will of God. And immediately following this glorious promise of all things working out for the good of those who love him we are confronted with God’s complete foreknowledge, without which such a promise would be meaningless. The chapter ends with a statement of the impossibility of our being separated from the love of Christ whether by earthly circumstances, or unearthly ones—not even death itself.

Because of that which God is promising his own, and because of the limitless possibilities which he is here setting before believers, we will find it of infinite profit to examine the promise and plumb its implications.

Remembering that this has to do solely with those who are God’s children we begin with the amazing statement that “all things” work together for good.

Not only does God know that which will take place in our lives, but in his infinite wisdom and love, he so orders events and their effects on us that regardless of how adverse they may seem to us, or to others, they are all actually for our good.

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Job, no stranger to the rough vicissitudes of life, said: “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Trouble and sorrow are an inevitable part of life. To the unbeliever such experiences only accentuate the hopelessness of a life outside of Christ. To the Christian God uses these same hardships for his own glory and the strengthening of our faith. The Apostle Paul states the Christian perspective when he says: “We glory in tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost … given unto us.”

It is the clarifying promise that trials do work out for our good which enables us to see them in the light of God’s grace.

Human experience runs the entire gamut of trouble, sorrow, sickness, material needs, physical dangers and the problems of human relationships which can be so trying. And yet, we are assured that any and all of these experiences are combining to work out for our good.

How can this be possible? There is but one explanation. Once we have committed our hearts and lives to God through faith in his Son we are no longer our own; we have been bought with an infinite price and we are the objects of God’s loving care. This side of eternity no man can fully understand all that is involved but we can all grasp this fact: our lives are in the hands of the One who sees the past, the present and the future. We are in the care of the One for whom there are no limitations of time, space or circumstances.

There is nothing more calculated to demonstrate God’s omniscience and omnipresence than the realization that at any given instant God knows and sees all men everywhere and is fully aware of their circumstances and conditions. Men and events change within seconds but this does not change his knowledge. Furthermore, God has known about all men in all ages and this knowledge reaches forward into that which we call eternity of which God has been and will always be the sovereign ruler.

Only the sovereign God could make such a promise and only the sovereign God could fulfil such a promise. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says: “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

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God’s ability to make good on his promise is not open to question. His willingness to make such a promise is a token of his infinite love and mercy to redeemed sinners.

What of the practical implications of such a promise? Can we grasp the fact that every possible contingency of life for the Christian is ordered and supervised for our specific good? We may accept it in theory but when we appropriate it as a glorious fact it becomes an unending source of joy and comfort.

This is not fatalism, but the very opposite, for while fatalism is a doctrine of occurrences necessitated by the nature of things, or a fixed and inevitable decree, our destiny is in the hands of a loving Father. This means that circumstances which to the non-Christian could be completely disastrous are, for the Christian, a source of blessing.

When the Children of Israel went out from Egypt they were soon followed by the armies of Pharoah bent on retrieving their slaves. But God intervened and that night he interposed a cloud between Israel and their pursuers. The Bible says: “And it was a cloud and darkness to them (the Egyptians), but it gave light by night to these (Israel).” The same cloud which was a hindrance to the one was a blessing to the other. So it is with Christians today. We are in the hands of one who knows the end from the beginning and one who in love and mercy is ordering the affairs and circumstances of our lives so that all shall work together for our ultimate good.

Boys choosing sides for a game may toss a coin and say: “Heads I win, tails you lose.” But Christians can say with the fullest assurance: “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

And it is God who has promised his children that all things are actually working out for their good. This should completely change our attitude to life.

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